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Young children are always at the greatest risk of being involved in a pedestrian collision. This risk is unfortunately more than doubled on Halloween night. Parents and kids need to be aware of the dangers of trick-or-treating and take steps to avoid incidents. If a child is harmed by a dangerous driver who fails to be reasonably careful on Halloween, an Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyer should be consulted for help. two-pumpkins-1438562-m

Preventing Halloween Pedestrian Accidents

When kids go out trick-or-treating, they tend to be on the roads as it is getting dark. Young children may also run into the middle of the road, dash into the street from between parked cars, or cross roads without looking. All of this creates a tremendous risk of motor vehicle collisions.

State Farm recently conducted a large-scale study of more than four million motor vehicle accident records from 1990 to 2010. The goal was to determine how dangerous Halloween is for children and the results were not good news. According to the research, a total of 115 kids were killed on Halloween night in pedestrian accidents over the course of the study period. This is an average of 5.5 deaths in pedestrian accidents each year on Halloween night. This is more than double the 2.6 pedestrian accidents that occurred, on average, over the course of a single normal day.

As many as 70 percent of the accidents that occurred on Halloween night happened in the middle of the block, rather than at intersections or on corners of the road. This is likely because children tend to run out between vehicles and into the middle of the road to cross and they get struck by drivers who aren’t paying attention or who cannot stop on time.

Around 60 percent of the accidents occurred between the hours of 5:00 and 9:00 PM with most accidents happening between 6:00 and 7:00 PM when it started to get dark. Kids aged 12 to 15 were the most likely to be in deadly pedestrian accidents. Children within this age group accounted for 32 percent of the pedestrian deaths, compared with 23 percent of fatalities in the five-to-eight age group, which was the group with the second highest number of fatalities.

Kids between 12 and 15 may be at an age when they no longer go out with an adult, which may account for the higher number of fatalities. Safe Kids Worldwide warns parents that children under 12 should not trick-or-treat alone, but the data clearly shows that even parents of older kids need to go over safety rules such as not crossing when using an electronic device; looking both ways before crossing; and always crossing at corners or crosswalks.

Drivers also have an obligation to follow best practices for safety in order to reduce the risk of deadly pedestrian accidents on Halloween night. Drivers should ensure that they slow their speed when going through residential neighborhoods where kids are likely to be trick-or-treating. Drivers should also be on the lookout for children, especially as it starts to get dark out. If parents dress their kids in bright costumes and put reflective stickers on trick-or-treat bags, hopefully this will help drivers to see kids and avoid a crash.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in pedestrian accident cases. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of abuse.

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Nursing homes are required by federal law to report any and all allegations of neglect or abuse that are made by residents or family members. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are not living up to their reporting obligations. This makes it difficult for the government to enforce rules designed to ensure patient safety. When a nursing home fails to report possible abuse or neglect, family members and seniors looking for a residential care environment may also be deprived of information they need to make an informed choice. nursing home

Every credible accusation of potential abuse and neglect should be investigated. Victims who need help understanding their rights and obtaining compensation for abuse should consult with an Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer for assistance with their case. In many situations, having an attorney is the only way to get justice and to ensure that the negligent nursing home does not do more harm to other vulnerable seniors.

Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse May Be Underreported

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took a close look at whether nursing homes were fulfilling their reporting obligations that exist under federal law. The report was based on a sample of 209 different nursing facilities nationwide and the results were troubling. The data revealed that:

  • Just 76 percent of nursing homes had appropriate policies established for complying with federal rules for reporting abuse and neglect.
  • Just 61 percent of nursing homes had appropriate documentation demonstrating that they were actually in compliance with federal reporting requirements.
  • Just 53 percent of reportable accusations of potential abuse and neglect were actually reported.

This means only around half of all potential instances of abuse of vulnerable seniors are brought to the attention of government officials who could take action to protect nursing home residents.

Unfortunately, even though many cases of abuse are not being brought to the attention of authorities, the reports that are being made show very high rates of abuse and neglect in nursing homes throughout the country.

In 2012, 85 percent of all nursing facilities reported that at least one allegation of abuse or neglect had been made. While 24 percent of the cases involved resident-to-resident abuse, nursing homes may still be at fault for this high-risk behavior because they should have sufficient staff to supervise and protect their residents.

In 40 percent of reported instances of abuse, the allegations were made against a staff member at the nursing home. Nursing homes are responsible for the actions undertaken by on-duty staff members and can be held legally liable if abuse or neglect occurs to residents as a result of an employee’s behavior.

Around five million vulnerable seniors may be victimized each and every year by caregivers. Nursing homes clearly need to do a better job to protect those under their care. Victims also need to understand their rights and should get appropriate legal help from an Atlanta nursing home abuse attorney.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience in nursing home abuse cases. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you believe you or a loved one is a victim of abuse.

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Our Atlanta product liability attorneys are following recent news about Honda’s recall of 126,000 motorcycles with malfunctioning brakes, the second such recall done. These vehicle recalls show product defects in vehicles could potentially cause accidents, injuries, and even deaths.

The recalled motorcycles include GL-1800 motorcycles from 2001 through 2010, and those from 2012. Honda issued an initial recall of these motorcycles in December 2011, but continued receiving complaints. Honda told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the reason for the problharley davidsonem was undetermined, and they were still investigating the cause.

Through July 24 of this year, Honda received 533 complaints about problems with the bikes. It turns out the secondary brake master cylinder can cause the rear brake to drag, which in turn can cause a crash or fire. The complaints include reports of eight small fires; luckily, no reports of crashes or injuries related to these brake problems were received.

Honda will send a letters to the owners of the affected motorcycles, explaining the problem and how to look for it. If the motorcycle is defective, an owner can take it to the dealer for inspection. They will receive another letter once the replacement parts are available to fix the motorcycle.

There are more than 200,000 registered motorcycles in Georgia. Over the recent Labor Day weekend, members of American Bikers Active Toward Education (ABATE) of Georgia stated that the trend of buying a motorcycle instead of a car is continuing since gas prices remain high. ABATE asserts that one motorcycle death is too many; the group’s slogan is, “Look twice to save a life.” With regard to their slogan, the group explains, “How to process that information is to look twice, so your brain receives two different signals and can triangulate the motorcycle’s presence, distance, and oncoming speed.” ABATE succeeded in helping to pass a bill increasing the penalty for those who cause injury or death to a motorcyclist. They also teach young drivers in schools, and help raise awareness that all drivers should drive safely and note all vehicles around them.

Motorcyclists remain vulnerable on the roads they share with bigger cars and trucks. Sometimes even good drivers, let alone those distracted or impaired, do not see these smaller vehicles. In already dangerous situations, defective or malfunctioning motorcycles can create even more serious consequences.

Atlanta Product Liability Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product, or in an accident with another vehicle driven by a distracted or impaired driver, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your legal options choose a course of action. Contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys read an article about a malpractice case against a dentist in DeKalb County.

Haley Buice, a 33 year-old mother of four, began seeing Dr. James Cauley in 2008 at Coast Dental of Georgia in Acworth. She alleged that Dr. Cauley demonstrated shoddy workmanship when implanting veneers, improperly fitted more than 12 crowns, proposed unnecessary treatment for healthy teeth, and ignored problems with unhealthy teeth. The treatments came to more than $20,000, but the billing was never properly documented. Dr. Cauley left Coast Dental in 2009 before getting a file9261297827467chance to finish the work, and Ms. Buice was forced to seek treatment from other dentists to fix Dr. Cauley’s work.

After filing the initial complaint in 2010, Ms. Buice’s lawyers discovered Dr. Cauley had a problems with drug abuse. In 2011, Ms. Buice filed a claim against Coast Dental for negligent hiring, supervision, and retention. Coast Dental hired Dr. Cauley in 2007 despite his testing positive for Valium at a drug screening. The complaint alleges Dr. Cauley overdosed on a narcotic five weeks after he was hired, and that he used nitrous oxide intended for patients.

Dr. Cauley eventually settled with Ms. Buice; the terms of the settlement are confidential. In her suit against Coast Dental, a jury awarded Ms. Buice $2.8 million in compensatory damages. Coast Dental settled with Ms. Buice on her claims concerning Dr. Cauley’s drug use and negligent hiring, retention, and supervision, and compensated her for potential punitive damages.

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent medical professional such as a dentist or psychologist, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your options and help you choose a course of action. Contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys are, like many Americans, following the frustrating stories of Veterans Affairs backlogs. People who fought for our country are finding themselves cheated out of the high quality, prompt medical care they deserve. One recent story concerns a Georgia family that will receive more than $100,000 from the Department of Veterans Affairs because a VA hospital in Augusta, Georgia, failed to properly treat Jimmy Lee Stapletfile0001770758579on, a 68 year-old veteran, for gallbladder cancer. Mr. Stapleton, who served in the Army from 1965 to 1967, suffered from two years of neglect and substandard care in three different VA hospitals before receiving his cancer diagnosis. He died at home on June 2.

Mr. Stapleton was first diagnosed with gallstones at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in 1998. The surgeons chose not to remove the gallstones at the time. After suffering in pain for 13 years, doctors diagnosed him with pancreatitis in 2011. In November of that year, doctors at the VA hospital decided that his gallbladder and part of his liver needed to be removed. Mr. Stapleton underwent surgery at the Atlanta VA Medical Center in early 2012. During the operation, doctors did not find any evidence of cancer, but ordered Mr. Stapleton to come for periodic testing and chemotherapy to prevent a potential spread of the disease. However, subsequent appointments were cancelled at the last minute by all three Georgia VA hospitals. The Stapletons repeatedly requested referral to a private hospital, but their requests were denied. Mr. Stapleton’s wife, Carolyn, later stated, “He was sent on a merry-go-round of canceled appointments from one hospital to another.” In August 2013, doctors finally diagnosed Mr. Stapleton with Stage 4 gallbladder cancer.

The family argued that the VA should have allowed Mr. Stapleton to receive treatment in a private medical center after Georgia’s three VA hospitals were unable to see him. After settling with the VA over Mr. Stapleton’s death, Carolyn Stapleton said, “The outcome’s unfair, and I truly believe if the VA had done their job, my husband would still be here today. No one should have to go through the same torture my husband and other veterans have, and I hope they don’t.”

Atlanta Wrongful DeathLawyers

If your loved one died as a result of negligence, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your legal options. Please contact us at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.

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A 2008 salmonella outbreak caused by tainted peanut butter is the subject of a trial currently underway in Georgia. The outbreak, which sickened 700 people and killed at least nine more, led to one of the largest food recalls in US history. Our Atlanta product liability attorneys have been following the case, which made the news again this week.

file4761299722009The 76-count indictment (see our previous blog post about the trial here) names Michael Parnell, the owner of Peanut Corporation of America, Mary Wilkerson, the plant’s quality assurance manager, and another former manager, Samuel Lightsey. The indictment accuses the company of shipping tainted products and hiding lab tests that showed they contained salmonella. Wilkerson is also charged with obstructing justice.

Lightsey pled guilty in May, agreeing to testify for the prosecution in exchange for a lighter sentence. In six days of testimony, Lightsey spoke of how the Peanut Corporation of America shipped contaminated products with falsified documents stating they were free of salmonella, and of the presence of mold and mildew within the plant. He also told the court of how employees used a pellet gun to shoot birds that got inside the plant.

This week, Parnell’s attorney grilled Lightsey over his role in running the plant on a day-to-day basis. Concerning Ms. Wilkerson’s role in assisting the Food and Drug Administration, Lightsey admitted that, while he lied to FDA investigators, Ms. Wilkerson tried to assist them in finding documents. Defense attorneys asked Mr. Lightsey to review pre-salmonella outbreak audits, which showed that the plant received good marks from inspectors. They also asked why, out of thousands of lab reports, only about a dozen indicated positive tests for salmonella. The defense also pointed to Lightsey’s plea deal, which stipulated that, in exchange for assisting the prosecution, he could avoid a jail sentence.

Atlanta Product Liability Lawyers

If you or a loved one have been injured by a defective product, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your options and advise you on how to proceed. Please contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys read a news article recently about two wrongful death cases in Athens regarding pedestrians killed by cars. Areas with large numbers of pedestrians and other forms of transport, such as bicycles, need to make sure drivers are aware of the dangers of driving around these more vulnerable people close to the road.

DSC05911bBoth wrongful death suits were filed in Clarke County Superior Court. One victim was 73 year-old Roger Griffith. After suffering an injury 20 years ago that made walking difficult, particularly over long distances, he often used a wheelchair to get around. A car hit him as he crossed Lexington Road in his electric wheelchair on the night of April 8th last year. He was killed instantly. The police report noted that Mr. Griffith’s wheelchair was not equipped with lights or reflectors, and a portion of the street where the accident occurred did not have street lights. His wife, Zelma Griffith, said her husband often used his wheelchair to visit people and run errands, and to travel to the bus stop on Lexington Road. The police did not cite the 66 year-old driver of the car that hit Mr. Griffith. I
n her complaint, Zelma Griffith stated that Mr. Griffith had crossed two lanes when the car hit him, and that Mr. Griffith “had already entered the roadway under safe conditions” when the driver failed to yield. She filed the lawsuit on July 22, and is seeking to recover the full value of her husband’s life, “in an amount to be determined by the enlightened conscience of a fair and impartial jury.”

The second lawsuit involved the death of 33 year old Teri Lynn Manders. A car struck Ms. Manders as she crossed West Broad Street on May 19. She was taken to the hospital but, due to the severity of her injuries, was taken off life support six days later. Police did not cite the driver, and found that Ms. Manders was wearing dark clothing at the time. On July 18, the administrator of Ms. Manders’ estate filed a negligence claim against the 65 year-old driver and her 78 year-old brother, who was a passenger in the car. The complaint asserts that the driver was reckless and failed to yield the right of way to Ms. Manders on the road. It also claims the brother was negligent “in entrusting (his sister) with his automobile when he knew or should have known that she was incapable of operating a motor vehicle.” The lawsuit seeks compensation for Ms. Manders’ life, and punitive damages “in a fair amount to be determined by the jury.”

Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyers

If a loved one has died as a result to negligence, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your options and advise you on how to proceed. Please contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.

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med mal 3Our Atlanta psychiatrist malpractice attorney recently read an alarming story about a former University of Florida psychiatry professor forced to give up his Florida medical licence last June. This case before the Board of Medicine concerned his involvement in the death of a patient, Alice Tomlinson, in 2010. The ruling also required that he agree to never reapply for a Florida medical license. The psychiatrist, Dr. Harold E. Smith, had already had his medical license suspended or revoked in several states, including Georgia, Arkansas, Virginia, and Tennessee. He has had several disciplinary actions brought against him over a span of more than 20 years.

The case of Dr. Smith demonstrates just how worrying it can be when doctors can avoid the damage of malpractice claims and bad professional conduct by moving between states, each of which has its own licensing structure. In addition to the state actions against him, Dr. Smith had also been subject to disciplinary action by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in 2011 that led to the revocation of his certificate to prescribe controlled substances due to his submitting false information. These disciplinary actions, which were all due to his problems with drugs and alcohol, ought to have warned of continuing misconduct on the part of Dr. Smith.

The University of Florida Health Shands Hospital hired Dr. Smith one year ago as an assistant professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. He also treated patients with alcohol and drug addiction at the Florida Recovery Center. At the time of his hiring, he already faced the complaint over Ms. Tomlinson’s death, who had been prescribed Oxycontin despite showing signs of oversedation. She was discovered on the floor, unresponsive, and was later pronounced dead at the hospital. At the time of Ms. Tomlinson’s death, Dr. Smith had two prior actions against him in Florida, one was for improperly prescribing Oxycontin to family members, the other was for using crack cocaine and opioids. The University of Florida has refused to discuss what they knew about Dr. Smith’s problems with drug and alcohol abuse prior to his hiring. Dr. Smith was put on unpaid leave in December, and then resigned in May.

There lawsuit over Ms. Tomlinson’s death is ongoing, and is scheduled next year for trial in Orange County. Ms. Tomlinson’s husband settled confidentially with the hospital involved, Central Florida Behavioral Hospital in Orlando.

Atlanta Psychiatrist Malpractice Lawyers

If a negligent psychiatrist has hurt you or a loved one, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help you understand your case and advise you on how to proceed. Please contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers know that tractor trailers can be dangerous to other cars on the road, but also to pedestrians, cyclists, or people who have to stop by the side of the road for an emergency. Tragically, a recent news story has shown that all too clearly again, cutting short the life of a promising young athlete.


Torrin Lawrence, 25 years old, was a champion runner at the University of Georgia, where he graduated in 2013 with a degree in sociology. While on the Georgia track and field team from 2009-2012, he was the SEC and NCAA champion, set a collegiate record, and held three school records. He was a four time All-American and in 2010 was the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Male Track Athlete of the Year. Before his tragic death, he was competing as a professional athlete in Atlanta and representing the US track and field team at international competitions. He had a successful career ahead of him as one of the fastest sprinters in the country. He ran for the US at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, the Bahamas, two months ago, running the first leg of the 4×400 relay and helping the team capture gold. And in early July, he ran a personal best outdoor time of 45.32 at a competition in Belgium.

Torrin was driving home to Jacksonville, Florida, after training in Athens when his car had a flat tire on Interstate 75 near Cordele, about 90 miles from the Georgia-Florida border, on Monday morning. His car was stopped in a southbound lane and Torrin got out of the car to call 911. A tractor trailer smashed into his car, knocking the car into him. He died at the scene from injuries sustained in the crash.

The CEO of USA Track and Field, Max Siegel, said,  “We were devastated to learn of Torrin’s passing early this morning. Torrin represented USATF with pride and passion, and had an incredible future ahead of him. We join those who will miss him deeply.” And Wayne Norton, the track coach at Georgia, said, “In speaking for the UGA track and field community, I am shocked and pained with news of Torrin’s death. First, my prayers for comfort are for Torrin’s mother and family. Second, this makes me reflect on Torrin and remember him as one of the greatest talents I have ever seen in our sport and as gentle man.” He also said, “Torrin was an easy person to get along with and almost always improved the atmosphere wherever he went. He did some great things in track and for UGA.”​

Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a vehicle crash due to the negligence of another driver, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help you understand your case and advise you how to proceed, so contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys read about a medical malpractice judgment that was overturned due to a trial judge responding to a note from a juror, which was found to be improper by the Georgia Court of Appeals.


The case is Phillips v. Harmon, and the trial judge, Judge Benjamin Studdard of Henry County Superior Court, received, among other notes, one from a juror saying the jury was deadlocked. The attorney for the plaintiff only found out about this note after the trial had concluded. During the trial, Judge Studdard had notified counsel of four other notes sent to him by the jury, but not about this particular note. He also did not mention to counsel his directions that the jury continue to deliberate, and did not preserve the notes for the record.

The case was about the mother of a child born blind and quadriplegic after a difficult birth. The two week trial ended with a verdict for the defendants, gynecologist Deborah Haynes, nurse-midwife Marcia Harmon, and Eagle’s Landing Ob-Gyn Associates. It was only two weeks after this verdict that one juror, Beverly Lemon Angelo, called the plaintiff’s attorney and told him the jury was deadlocked at the end of the second day of deliberations and the jury foreman had sent a note to the judge. Judge Studdard sent back a note in reply, “Please continue deliberating.” Ms. Angelo and another juror, Sandra Lynn Tanner, who did not agree with the majority felt like this instruction meant they should drop their objections and go with the majority. Ms. Tanner stated that she believed the instructions meant they had to keep deliberating until there was a unanimous verdict. She did not know that if there was no unanimous verdict another jury would hear the case.

The Georgia Court of Appeals found that the conduct with the note violated the Georgia Constitution and also legal precedent established in criminal law. A trial judge should not communicate with a jury about a case in the absence of the accused and his counsel. The judgment stated there was no reason for this rule to be different in civil cases. Judge Carla Wong McMillian, writing for the Court, stated, “[A]s a general proposition and broadly stated, a trial judge should not answer a question from the jury in a civil case about their ability to reach a verdict unless the parties and/or their counsel are present as well.”
The judgment did not make a determination as to whether Judge Studdard’s conduct violated the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct. Judge Studdard asserts that his actions did not violate judicial ethics.

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent medical proffesional, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help you understand your case and advise you how to proceed, so contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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